I’ve ranted before about overshare. I’ve disparaged people like Penelope Trunk because they employ the entire internet as an amateur therapist. I try to keep this blog free and clear of any of the drama that goes on in my life. Lately though, I’ve been having second thoughts.
When oversharers make the decision to start opening their life up to internet, something unexpected happens. They are not ostracized or passed by like a raving street preacher. People start to trust them because of this volunteered information. There are still detractors and critics, but they either remain silent or can be silenced by a draconic comment moderation policy. You might say that the oversharers only surround themselves with yes-men and sycophants, that this is only hollow tribalism, but consider this: Your only other option is to be invisible, a mere statistic on google analytics. By keeping guarded about our personal lives, and by extension our very individuality, we are ignored, we are downsized, and we are passed over.
I am trying very hard to convince myself that this isn’t true. My hardships are my own, I have no right to burden others with them. But I notice that rapport that forms around bloggers that offer their very bodily functions for public debate. Can we afford to remain aloof in such a society?
“Mommyblogging” (one word) was the recent topic of choice for Heather Lyn Fleming’s Master of Communications Thesis at SFU. Through a myriad of collective blog posts, Fleming wanted to know if she could delve deeper into the story behind the tweets. What were these writings telling us about modern-day mothers?
When the Mommybloggers in question saw the findings of the thesis, enough of them were horrified that the hash tag #creepythesis came to be. It’s not that Fleming was accusing them of locking their children in pet carriers or anything like that, it’s that the assumptions, gleaned from their publicly available writings, were incorrect. Fleming tried to paint a picture of these bloggers’ households that they had no control over, and this was simply unacceptable.
I can see how some people see the internet as this world-wide private journal. Look at my infinitesimal website stats if you don’t believe me. But if irrelevance is your only defense against scrutiny, you might be expressing yourself in the wrong medium. If we want the internet to fulfill its true potential, we need to accept that it is the most public and accessible form of communication there is. If people misunderstand you or if they don’t like your message, they are now able to tell you and the only thing you can do about it is write them a sternly worded note. This kind of criticism is no reason to abandon blogging all together. The greater good of any debate is served by more voices, not fewer. Just be prepared to take part in the debates that you start.